• Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    Mu, if you don't know the difference between simply observing someone's normal behavior to acquire knowledge, and beating someone to make them do your bidding, then you have bigger problems that can't be helped on a philosophy forum. You need to go to a psychology forum. You observe other people everyday in order to acquire information or knowledge about them. If you think that is any where close to being morally equivalent to owning slaves then I just don't know about you.Harry Hindu

    The problem is, that in order to maintain that culture for the purpose of observation it would require denying the members of that culture the right to leave that culture and join the culture of the observers instead. This would be the same sort of oppression forced on slaves, denying them the right to leave the culture of the enslaved to join instead the enslaving culture.

    The problem with both of you is that you both don't seem to understand that this simply a revamp of the nature vs. nature debate in which I already showed that nature and nuture are the same. An individual is an amlgam of culture and its genes.Harry Hindu

    A mixture of two distinct things makes a mixture of two distinct things, each of the two distinct things forming a part of the mixture. It does not make the two distinct things one and the same thing. Mixing water and salt will produce a solution, but it does not make water and salt the same thing.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    Hah! They want the same kind of shit as anyone else, you know, stuff they haven't got, stuff that is impossible. They want everyone to be middle-class, conflicted and peaceful.unenlightened

    In terms of the theme of this thread, the Namby-Pamby wants above all to transcend his own culture, and to stand outside it in a judgement of perfect impartiality.

    That's it! They want everyone to be part of the book club. I do too. Because if everyone's part of the book club, everyone's huddled within, attacking the outside. But if the outside's gone, the whole thing goes to pieces. The important thing is to maintain the symbolically violent gestures - attacking the other.

    My feeling is its irresolvable. And most of the effort is dedicated to a well-choreographed dance around not-attacking. But, nevertheless- we attack.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    The problem is, that in order to maintain that culture for the purpose of observation it would require denying the members of that culture the right to leave that culture and join the culture of the observers instead. This would be the same sort of oppression forced on slaves, denying them the right to leave the culture of the enslaved to join instead the enslaving culture.Metaphysician Undercover
    This is nothing but straw-men, MU. Denying members of that culture the right to leave isn't just observation as I have been stating. Once you've done that you've gone above and beyond what I've talking about (observation).

    Think about it this way. When a biologist wants to observe another animal, they hide so that they don't disturb the animal and its natural behavior. They don't want to influence the behavior by making themselves known the other animal. This is what I'm talking about. Scientists would observe from a distance so that their presence isn't noticed so that they can observe their behavior independent of any interaction with them because once you interact you forever change that culture. So cultures change as a result of interacting with other cultures.

    A mixture of two distinct things makes a mixture of two distinct things, each of the two distinct things forming a part of the mixture. It does not make the two distinct things one and the same thing. Mixing water and salt will produce a solution, but it does not make water and salt the same thing.Metaphysician Undercover
    Not if it is in one's nature to be cultured, or social, like it is for human beings.
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    But if the outside's gone, the whole thing goes to pieces.csalisbury

    Well looking at practice for a moment, the Sentinelese are above all remote, and their barbarity is tolerable. I don't think the Channel Islanders could expect our ignorance to the same extent, being too near our trade routes and strategically important.

    The post-colonial enjoys the benefits of Empire and agonises about the statue of Rhodes in the Quad. Namby-Pambies are guilt-ridden. Look through this thread for the posters that describe the immorality of their own morality, and acknowledge the hubris of their humility - because if it isn't universal, then it isn't a morality - and that is Namby-Pambyism.
    ____________________________________________________________________
    Nobody meets the Sentinelese on equal moral terms. John Chau was neither an idiot nor a madman, but a dedicated liberator, whose morality matches any of those here who consider it 'moral' to allow these savages the right to our magnificent civilisation, and to have a couple of Starbucks at least.

    "Give them all a good education, and then they can choose".

    The problem here is that the person has an identity even prior to being "the campaigner against slavery". This identity is associated with the values that the person holds, and it is very important to identify the person as "campaigner for X values" rather than "campaigner against our culture".Metaphysician Undercover

    But the Sentinelese cannot campaign to have a Starbucks, or against it, individually or all together, until the have the benefit of an education (cultural indoctrination) to tell them about Starbucks. And once they have the education and can form the view, they are no longer Sentielese in anything but name.

    Perhaps it's worth considering the reflexivity of morality. Jesus did not have a view on Global warming, and thus did not consider a commandment forbidding the extraction of fossil fuels. But we are not more moral because we do. A good person is one who does good deeds according to a moral code. But it is the reflexivity of what makes a good moral code that is in question in this thread, and that requires a ground.

    John Chau gave his life to his moral duty; he was a good Christian man according to his own lights, and that is, in the Christian traditional least, the measure of individual virtue, what one will sacrifice for the good. "Greater love hath no man..." Not a Namby-Pamby by any means. So by what moral code does the Indian government, or the liberal elite, or anyone else, judge him to be an evil fanatic, an idiot, a madman, or whatever level of condemnation is attached to him? It seems to me that consistency requires that we treat him as generouslyl as we treat the Sentinelese - he is as innocent as they.

    And if we have the right of it, if we are the guardians of morality and civilisation, is it not likewise our duty to gather these miserable sufferers under the yoke of religious indoctrination, and attempt to deprogram them, as the Chinese are doing?
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    Here's the thread theme tune, by the way.

    It was all I could do to keep myself from taking revenge on your blood.

  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    Denying members of that culture the right to leave isn't just observation as I have been statingHarry Hindu

    But the subject we're discussing is not simple "observation". What we're discussing is "preserving the more primitive culture for the purpose of...". The subject is preserving the culture, not observing the culture.

    Think about it this way. When a biologist wants to observe another animal, they hide so that they don't disturb the animal and its natural behavior. They don't want to influence the behavior by making themselves known the other animal. This is what I'm talking about. Scientists would observe from a distance so that their presence isn't noticed so that they can observe their behavior independent of any interaction with them because once you interact you forever change that culture. So cultures change as a result of interacting with other cultures.Harry Hindu

    All you've done now is changed the subject. You're not talking about preserving a culture any more. So what's the point in proceeding on this path?

    But the Sentinelese cannot campaign to have a Starbucks, or against it, individually or all together, until the have the benefit of an education (cultural indoctrination) to tell them about Starbucks. And once they have the education and can form the view, they are no longer Sentielese in anything but name.unenlightened

    I think education is a key point here. And this is why Plato's cave allegory is relevant. The philosopher goes out of the cave and sees (learns) what the others don't see. What the philosopher sees is true and right, being something apprehended and firmly grasped by the mind, but the others cannot apprehend it because they have not been exposed to it. So the task of the philosopher is to educate the others, and it's no simple task because the others have made a comfortable namby-pamby life, living in their own little cave. So the analogy is that of forcing the people to look directly at the light source. It's painful, but the cultural habits, or even the culture itself, must be broken for the good of the people.

    Perhaps it's worth considering the reflexivity of morality. Jesus did not have a view on Global warming, and thus did not consider a commandment forbidding the extraction of fossil fuels. But we are not more moral because we do. A good person is one who does good deeds according to a moral code. But it is the reflexivity of what makes a good moral code that is in question in this thread, and that requires a ground.unenlightened

    I'm having difficulty with your use of "reflexivity", particularly "the reflexivity of what makes a good moral code". It appears that we need to distinguish two different senses of "good". There is "good" in the sense of "according to a moral code", but there is also 'good" in the sense of what justifies the moral code. There's another thread now on the Euthryphro problem, which looks at this same issue from a religious perspective, but I think it's more easily understood in the way that it's presented here.

    If I understand you correctly, the reflexivity you refer to is that the moral code must reflect back upon the good of the individual people within the society. So we have "good" #1, which is the people behaving according to the code, and we have "good" #2 which is what the code is doing for the people. The issue is the grounding of good #2. This is why I insist that the identity of the individual, how we define "person", must be derived from outside of the culture, or else we'd just have a circle. The circle is that the good moral code is the one best capable of inspiring the people to follow it. And there is some truth to that, but it just begs for the question of what inspires people to follow the code, and then we must turn to the nature of the individual anyway. If you've read Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, you'll know that he posits "happiness", as grounding for the ethical "good" of the people.

    John Chau gave his life to his moral duty; he was a good Christian man according to his own lights, and that is, in the Christian traditional least, the measure of individual virtue, what one will sacrifice for the good. "Greater love hath no man..." Not a Namby-Pamby by any means. So by what moral code does the Indian government, or the liberal elite, or anyone else, judge him to be an evil fanatic, an idiot, a madman, or whatever level of condemnation is attached to him? It seems to me that consistency requires that we treat him as generouslyl as we treat the Sentinelese - he is as innocent as they.

    And if we have the right of it, if we are the guardians of morality and civilisation, is it not likewise our duty to gather these miserable sufferers under the yoke of religious indoctrination, and attempt to deprogram them, as the Chinese are doing?
    unenlightened

    These are issues of the relationship between good #1 and good #2. You ought to see that good #2 must take priority over good #1. Acting according to the code is only good in so far as the code is good. So how is the code judged? And this is where we turn to education. However, the issue is very complex, and it is not simply a matter of education here. Plato uncovered a very difficult problem in his analysis of sophism. The premise was that virtue could be produced by education. Teaching individuals how to recognize and understand "good" ought to inspire them to act well. But this is not necessarily the case, as people choose to do what they know is not good, and choose not to do what they know ought to be done, as good. And this problem was taken up directly, and to a greater extent by Augustine. Virtue is not simply a matter of education, as the sophists claimed "virtue is knowledge", which could be taught. There is a matter of creating the inspiration required to do what one knows is good. (Namby-pambyism doesn't cut it). This is why it is essential to understand the nature of an individual, as an individual, in order to judge a good code from a not so good code. Not only must the code outline what is "good" as a direction for education, but it also must provide the means for inspiration.
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    If I understand you correctly, the reflexivity you refer to is that the moral code must reflect back upon the good of the individual people within the society. So we have "good" #1, which is the people behaving according to the code, and we have "good" #2 which is what the code is doing for the people. The issue is the grounding of good #2. This is why I insist that the identity of the individual, how we define "person", must be derived from outside of the culture, or else we'd just have a circle.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'd kind of like you to apply this to the case of John Chau. John judges himself according to an evangelical culture that he follows/accepts/believes/identifies with. The Sentinelese culture seems to identify him as a white devil invader. The Indian government identifies him as a criminal interfering white idiot. How do you see this individual? I've said I see him as a good man by his own lights.

    You want to claim that every one of these cultures is a cave, and you and Plato are outside? Even the way you put it makes no sense to me. "... how we define "person", must be derived from outside of the culture, or else we'd just have a circle." We???? We define things in a shared language and these definitions are thereby cultural. But you want to start with a 'we' that is not a culture!
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    I'd kind of like you to apply this to the case of John Chau. John judges himself according to an evangelical culture that he follows/accepts/believes/identifies with. The Sentinelese culture seems to identify him as a white devil invader. The Indian government identifies him as a criminal interfering white idiot. How do you see this individual? I've said I see him as a good man by his own lights.unenlightened

    You ask a difficult question, and the easy answer is to say that I don't really have the information required to make that judgement. I don't really understand his ambition, and that is what drove him to his death. And, you can be sure that he knew death was a real possibility. He was not explicitly asking for death, but he was putting his life into the hands God, where he probably saw two possible outcomes, either he'd have some success with the Sentinelese, or he'd be killed and God would make him into a martyr. Either way, he fulfills his commitment to God.

    The bigger question I think though, is his perception of evil. He seems to have proceeded in his actions as an effort to fight evil, and this implies an enemy. Do you apprehend a difference between going forward with the intent of bringing good, and going forward with the intent of fighting evil? The former implies the existence of friends, while the latter implies the existence of enemies. So I think that poor John Chau's approach may have been all wrong. He most likely had good intentions, because fighting evil is of course a good intention, but he didn't properly identify and understand the evil involved, so his approach was all wrong. It is one thing to go out into the world alone, with the intent of doing good, and a completely different thing to go out alone, with the intent of fighting evil.

    You want to claim that every one of these cultures is a cave, and you and Plato are outside? Even the way you put it makes no sense to me. "... how we define "person", must be derived from outside of the culture, or else we'd just have a circle." We???? We define things in a shared language and these definitions are thereby cultural. But you want to start with a 'we' that is not a culture!unenlightened

    That we define things with a shared language, and the definitions are cultural, is irrelevant to whether or not the thing being identified, the person, which we are defining, or describing, can be properly defined through reference to one's culture. We use shared language to describe things like the earth and the moon, but this does not mean that these things being defined are being defined by referring to their cultures.

    Let me try a different approach for explanation. Do you agree that there are things common to human beings which are not culture specific? When we define what it means to be a human being we refer to these aspects which are common to all of us. and not specific to any particular culture, or group of cultures. We are all in the group "human being" regardless of culture. On the other hand, there are particular human beings, which we call individual persons. So when we go to identify an individual human being, as this particular human being, we must refer to things particular to that person, and this is not the person's culture, because that signifies a group of similar people. That would not identify a particular human being, it would only identify a group, giving us no means to identify the particular individual.

    Now we have two extremes. All human beings are the same in one sense, and this validates "we". In another sense each is individual, particular, and this validates "me". We could move further and identify a particular variety of human beings having some similar properties, or habits, as "a culture", but in relation to moral purposes what would be the point of such a determination? "Culture" does not serve to identify the individual, nor does it serve to tell us what's common to all human beings, so what purpose is there to identifying distinct cultures?
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    But the subject we're discussing is not simple "observation". What we're discussing is "preserving the more primitive culture for the purpose of...". The subject is preserving the culture, not observing the culture.

    All you've done now is changed the subject. You're not talking about preserving a culture any more. So what's the point in proceeding on this path?
    Metaphysician Undercover
    How do you know what it is you're preserving without first observing the culture in its primitive state PRIOR to any interference of another culture? Once you've interacted you've destroyed any chance at knowing what the culture is before any external interference changes it. But yeah, you and unenlightened can keep running around in circles if you want.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k

    I don't see what you're arguing, if you are arguing anything. How would you expect to observe a culture without interacting? By spying through telescopes? How could that be respectful of the people's privacy?
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    When we define what it means to be a human being we refer to these aspects which are common to all of us. and not specific to any particular culture, or group of cultures. We are all in the group "human being" regardless of culture.Metaphysician Undercover

    I'm afraid this is not the settled unquestionable reality you think it is. On the contrary you have merely hidden the circularity from yourself. We decide who is human, and whoever we have decided is not human does not get to make the decision. And that used to include peasants, slaves, blacks, children, homosexuals, the disabled, and disfigured, and women, at various times and various places. there is still controversy on this board about when a clump of cells becomes a human.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    I don't see what you're arguing, if you are arguing anything. How would you expect to observe a culture without interacting? By spying through telescopes? How could that be respectful of the people's privacy?Metaphysician Undercover
    I wasn't arguing anything. I was asking a question and you answered it with another. Are we performing mental gymnastics again? Just answer the question, MU.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    When we define what it means to be a human being we refer to these aspects which are common to all of us. and not specific to any particular culture, or group of cultures. We are all in the group "human being" regardless of culture. — Metaphysician Undercover


    I'm afraid this is not the settled unquestionable reality you think it is. On the contrary you have merely hidden the circularity from yourself. We decide who is human, and whoever we have decided is not human does not get to make the decision. And that used to include peasants, slaves, blacks, children, homosexuals, the disabled, and disfigured, and women, at various times and various places. there is still controversy on this board about when a clump of cells becomes a human.
    unenlightened
    Yeah, like I said, it comes down to nature. Humans' use of an arbitrary system of categorization isn't very helpful. The hierarchical nature of life's speciation isn't arbitrary.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    I'm afraid this is not the settled unquestionable reality you think it is. On the contrary you have merely hidden the circularity from yourself. We decide who is human, and whoever we have decided is not human does not get to make the decision. And that used to include peasants, slaves, blacks, children, homosexuals, the disabled, and disfigured, and women, at various times and various places. there is still controversy on this board about when a clump of cells becomes a human.unenlightened

    Yes, I realize this, and I was wondering if this point might come forward. But what this indicates is that all forms of identifying by group are somewhat arbitrary, and unreliable judgements. This leaves us with the other option, which is to identify by the individual. And this I insist, is the only true form of identity. A thing's identity is found by determining aspects which are unique and particular to that thing itself, not by examining that thing's position within an arbitrary group. That is why law enforcement agencies depend on things like fingerprints and DNA, while profiling is less reliable and in some cases controversial.

    How do you know what it is you're preserving without first observing the culture in its primitive state PRIOR to any interference of another culture?Harry Hindu

    The reason I did not answer this question is because it is not relevant to the point I was making. The point I was making is that such cases of preserving are fundamentally wrong. So from my perspective there is no instance of preserving something and you do not know what it is that you are preserving, because "preserving" has already been determined as the wrong procedure.

    Remember, I was arguing that preserving a culture is fundamentally wrong, because it can only be successful through oppression of its individual members. If you consider what unenlightened and I have discussed, you'll see that I've been arguing that the group (or culture), is a category of classification created for some purpose. The effort to preserve the correctness of the categorization (preserve the culture) can only be successful through suppression of the individual members' will to diversify. You seemed to think that preserving the categorization for the purpose of scientific observation was somehow acceptable, and fundamentally different from preserving the categorization for the purpose of slavery.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    Remember, I was arguing that preserving a culture is fundamentally wrong, because it can only be successful through oppression of its individual members. If you consider what unenlightened and I have discussed, you'll see that I've been arguing that the group (or culture), is a category of classification created for some purpose. The effort to preserve the correctness of the categorization (preserve the culture) can only be successful through suppression of the individual members' will to diversify. You seemed to think that preserving the categorization for the purpose of scientific observation was somehow acceptable, and fundamentally different from preserving the categorization for the purpose of slavery.Metaphysician Undercover
    All you are talking about is the political ideology of traditionalism or conservatism being imposed on a culture from outside of the culture. How is this any different from a culture defining itself as being traditionalist and imposing that on it's own people (kind of like how the Republicans are in the U.S.)? A political ideology isn't right or wrong. It is just a method of living. Other cultures have imposed themselves on others for all of history. It the natural way of things.

    Again, you don't know what you'd be preserving or changing without first observing.
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    A thing's identity is found by determining aspects which are unique and particular to that thing itself, not by examining that thing's position within an arbitrary group.Metaphysician Undercover

    How does one discover a unique aspect without relating it to the group? Even with DNA the uniqueness of the individual consists of usually a unique combination of traits that are shared in a population, or rarely a unique mutation, which is only found to be so by comparison with the group. That is to say, uniqueness is necessarily a position in a group, like a king in a country, or a runt in a litter. To say that I am unique is to say that I have X, and no one else has X, and it is only through the relation to everyone else that uniqueness can be seen.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.8k
    How does one discover a unique aspect without relating it to the group? Even with DNA the uniqueness of the individual consists of usually a unique combination of traits that are shared in a population, or rarely a unique mutation, which is only found to be so by comparison with the group. That is to say, uniqueness is necessarily a position in a group, like a king in a country, or a runt in a litter. To say that I am unique is to say that I have X, and no one else has X, and it is only through the relation to everyone else that uniqueness can be seen.unenlightened

    And what MU has been telling you for a long time now is that groups, or categories, are arbitrary. To say that something is defined by its relation to some arbitrary category isn't a very good definition. What an individual is is an amalgam of certain features that is shares and doesn't share with other things. We arbitrarily group things based on certain similar features over others. There is simply a way things are and then how we group those things based on some arbitrary need. We have this need to put things in boxes, but that does not necessarily mean that these categories exist independent of the mind that creates them.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    All you are talking about is the political ideology of traditionalism or conservatism being imposed on a culture from outside of the culture. How is this any different from a culture defining itself as being traditionalist and imposing that on it's own people (kind of like how the Republicans are in the U.S.)? A political ideology isn't right or wrong. It is just a method of living. Other cultures have imposed themselves on others for all of history. It the natural way of things.Harry Hindu

    I wouldn't say that there is a big difference between these two. And to the extent that members of the culture are oppressed (because we identify "oppression" as bad), this is not good. When certain members of a culture oppress other members it effectively divides the culture in two, so that you are left with one culture oppressing the other. And when Americans brought slaves from Africa, you may think of this as one culture oppressing another from outside it, but the two cultures integrate, living together in that one act of slavery, creating the situation where one culture suppresses its own members. So the two are essentially the same thing, the two cultures are divided, or united into one, depending on your perspective, by that act of oppression.

    I believe there is such a thing as right and wrong ideology. And just because you describe something as "the natural way", this does not make it right. Morality is often involved with curtailing what comes natural to us, as is the case with breaking bad habits.

    How does one discover a unique aspect without relating it to the group? Even with DNA the uniqueness of the individual consists of usually a unique combination of traits that are shared in a population, or rarely a unique mutation, which is only found to be so by comparison with the group. That is to say, uniqueness is necessarily a position in a group, like a king in a country, or a runt in a litter. To say that I am unique is to say that I have X, and no one else has X, and it is only through the relation to everyone else that uniqueness can be seen.unenlightened

    Yes, that's what makes an individual, it's a "unique combination of traits". I would say it's a unique set of characteristics. When we describe something, we cannot describe it by referring to this or that attribute, we must create a set of attributes which is unique to that individual thing. That's a matter of placing the thing into numerous different groups. So if "culture" is the principle of identity for a person, we couldn't describe a person by referring to this or that culture, we'd have to find numerous different cultures which that person is a member of, and create a uniqueness for that person through reference to the numerous different cultures ... is a member of this one, is not a member of that one, etc. But "culture" by itself doesn't serve this purpose because there aren't enough of them distinguished, and the boundaries are not well defined. But it could be used as one of the identifying features.

    The notion that I particularly oppose though is the thought that "uniqueness is necessarily a position in a group". I believe that this is off track in two ways. First, as per above, uniqueness is a function of a person's position in numerous groups. The second problem is the idea of necessity. This issue is a bit more complicated because we tend to think that an object has an "objective" identity, an identity independent of any "subjective" identity assigned to it by a human being. (What Harry calls "there is simply a way things are"). This creates the idea of necessity, the identity is necessarily such and such according to the objective position of the thing.

    But in general, we talk about "the identity" of a thing as something handed to the thing through human discretion, and that's a matter of judgement, choice. So this identity is inherently subjective. When we are creating an identity for a person, we create groups for classification, and choose the groups where we want to place the person, in order to create a unique identity for the person. The serious problem is that unless it is assumed that there is some objective reality to the groups (and this is a real issue as your example of "human being" in the last post demonstrated) and also that people are inclined to adhere to what is apprehended as "objectively real" when making such judgements, then they are free to create all sorts of different groups as they please, giving different persons all sorts of strange identities. Furthermore, even when the creation of groups follows principles of objectivity, there is a seemingly endless number of different groups which may be created. Therefore there may be numerous possibilities for a person's "unique identity" depending on how one creates the groups of classification, even when the groups of classification follow objective principles. And identity is a matter of choice.
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    the idea of necessity. This issue is a bit more complicated because we tend to think that an object has an "objective" identity, an identity independent of any "subjective" identity assigned to it by a human being. (What Harry calls "there is simply a way things are"). This creates the idea of necessity, the identity is necessarily such and such according to the objective position of the thing.Metaphysician Undercover

    The way things are is what I call contingency. Like Popeye, I yam what I yam. But that tells you nothing; to know something about me, you have to know things that relate me to the world That I am a sailor man, and live in a caravan, that I eat spinach, etc. This is the necessity, that knowing anything about me means knowing how I relate to the world; it is a linguistic, and epistemological necessity. If I am unique, I am unique regardless of what is said or known, but to know that I am unique is to know something about the world, that it only has the one unenlightened in it.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    We might say that "identity" in the pure, absolute sense (if there is such a thing) says nothing about the thing; "I yam what I yam", says nothing about Popeye. However, since it identifies Popeye as something distinct and separate from his environment, it still says something about something. It establishes a distinct entity, Popeye, separate from his environment. You might understand this as the difference between saying "that" something is, and "what" something is So prior to saying anything about Popeye, or Popeye's relationship to the bigger entity, his environment, it is necessary to establish that there are boundaries of separation between Popeye and this bigger entity, his environment. To say that there is such a thing as Popeye is to make this separation.

    That is what I believe is the necessity of identity. It is not to say anything about the thing, except that it is a thing, and this is to individuate, separate it from everything else. If this process of identification is not done first, prior to any type of saying something about the thing, there will be ambiguity as to the identity of the individual thing which we are talking about when we start to say things about the thing.

    This is the necessity, that knowing anything about me means knowing how I relate to the world; it is a linguistic, and epistemological necessity. If I am unique, I am unique regardless of what is said or known, but to know that I am unique is to know something about the world, that it only has the one unenlightened in it.unenlightened

    So from my perspective, this is a vague and partial truth. It is true that "knowing anything about me means knowing how I relate to the world", but only in the most fundamental sense of "how I relate to the world", meaning knowing that I am an individual, distinct, separate from the world. Knowing "that" I am an individual is knowing something about me, which is not the same as knowing "what" I am. But it is necessarily prior to knowing what I am as an individual, in order to avoid the ambiguity involved with distinguishing whether I am talking about me, or I am talking about the world. So it is not necessary in an absolute sense, but necessary for an accurate understanding. This is the basic necessity, "I am that I am", and any statements about what I am can only follow from this basic assumption. Moving beyond this basic assumption, how I define or describe myself is a matter of choice, and this is where I find contingency.
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    I think we're about as close to understanding each other as we're going to get at the moment, so I think I'll leave it there. Thanks for the discussion.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k

    Well we all have our differences of opinion, and to me, that's what makes each of us different, forming our different personalities and consequently our identities as persons. That's why I refer to Plato's cave analogy, the "real me" is to be found in my ideas and opinions, whereas my activities and cultural relations are a reflection of the real me. To reverse this, making my ideas and opinions a reflection of my cultural relations, is to deny the importance of free will in choosing what to believe. And determinist ontology leads to all sorts of problems with respect to cultural relations.
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    ... making my ideas and opinions a reflection of my cultural relations, is to deny the importance of free will in choosing what to believe. And determinist ontology leads to all sorts of problems with respect to cultural relations.Metaphysician Undercover

    I am no determinist. But my position is that freedom arises from limitation; my freedom lies not in the fabrication or forging of identity because that is the given, but in the transcendence of identity. I am, alas, stuck with my middle-class white male Englishness, but I am downwardly mobile, and a revolutionary traitor. Time and place and genes and upbringing make me - cut out the cloth - and my freedom is in what I make of these necessities. But now we're really off topic.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k

    It isn't really off topic, because the nature of freedom, and how it is that some form of freedom can get some sort of status as a fundamental right is important both to the creation and maintenance of diversity, and to the concept of oppression.

    So I look at "freedom" as a fundamental element in living organisms, which is responsible for the existence of diversity within these living creatures, not as something which the organism has to strive to obtain, as if freedom can only arise from those efforts. And from my perspective freedom is closely tied to the concept of life itself. In Aristotle's principal biological work, called "On the Soul", he describes the various potencies of living beings. Each capacity that a living being has, from the most basic, self-subsistence, through self-movement, sensation, and intellection, is itself the potential for action. Every such capacity, or potential for action, is a contingency, and according to the nature of possibility, it need not be actualized in any particular way. Therefore I find the freedom to choose (and this is not a rational choice, but closer to a random choice as we'd find with trial and error) to be a basic principle of life itself. And the fundamental freedom to choose is the cause of diversity in life forms.

    This is why identity, when it is a living being which is being identified, is so difficult. The power of choice gives that being the capacity to change its identity. That is assuming that we base "identity" in some sort continuity of existence. Aspects of a thing which do not change for a period of time provide us with the identity of that thing. In the case of living beings, what we find is that what does not change, is the capacity for change (choice), and this confuses the hell out of us. So the living being is a true chameleon, always showing you a different identity, and to determine its true identity requires exposing the capacity to change its identity.

    The history of the Andaman islands is sordid. The evil here is the evil of the authorities. The British established a penal colony, mainly for those Indians opposed to British colonization. The convicicts were enslaved to provide for the opulence of the authorities. The natives were treated worse. It's no wonder that the natives hate foreigners. The convicts were known to escape, and would therefore associate with the natives, whether the natives killed them or not would depend on the particularities of the situation. What do you think the ancestry of a modern day Sentinelese really is?
  • unenlightened
    3.1k
    This is why identity, when it is a living being which is being identified, is so difficult. The power of choice gives that being the capacity to change its identity.Metaphysician Undercover

    Oh I agree with this completely. The business of life is to build freedom. Gravity says stay down, but life refuses. And I think all along in the thread I have emphasised identification as an activity more than something static. - Or perhaps I took it for granted?

    I didn't know the history of the Andamans, but I am not surprised. There is hardly a corner of the world that the British have not polluted with their civilisation.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.2k
    Oh I agree with this completely. The business of life is to build freedom. Gravity says stay down, but life refuses. And I think all along in the thread I have emphasised identification as an activity more than something static. - Or perhaps I took it for granted?unenlightened

    We seem to actually agree on a lot, we just each have a different way of expressing what we believe. But you look at activity as the identifying feature, I look to the reason for the activity (intent) as the identifying feature. That's why when you asked me about John Chau I had to try to learn what motivated him, to properly answer the question. I didn't think I'd be capable of properly judging him simply on the basis of the action reported. But this piqued my interest to do a little more research into the history of the area. The internet is so good for that, no need to go to the library anymore (that's freedom). But I worry it might only be temporary, getting overrun by special interests, so that whatever information you can get for free, will become unreliable.
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